Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Saturday Gigs - A Tribute to Dale 'Buffin' Griffin

At one time, and it may still be the case, Dale Griffin held the honour of having produced the most Peel sessions for Radio 1. Or did I make that up? Well, he certainly produced in excess of 2,000 sessions for that influential and must-listen-to show presented by John Peel. Acts, bands and artists whose sessions – many of which would’ve been their gateway to a wider audience – included the Pixies, Nirvana, the Smiths, Ride, Primal Scream, Jesus & Mary Chain, Pulp, OMD and so many, many more.

Sir Dale, as he surely should’ve become, produced a couple of hit records too: ‘Is Vic There’ by Department S probably the biggest and most famous-est (and included on this tribute mix).

But before all of that he was known to the world as the drummer of Mott the Hoople. After paying dues and learning his trade with the usual school bands and sixties beat groups, he was a founding member in 1969 of a band that would have several hit records, get rock music acts banned from the Royal Albert Hall, become the first band to play live on Broadway but, maybe more importantly once the final history of rock n roll is told, they became extremely influential.

That influence goes beyond the music as well. Their attitude, swagger, honesty and normal-ness just oozed and immersed so many of us listeners. A lot of whom would go on to become drummers, singers, guitarists and so on in bands around the world. Some would make it to the local pub scene, others would hit the big time. And in many ways, Buffin was responsible for so much of this.

Once the band folded it was he that cajoled record companies to part with tapes to be re-mixed and re-packaged, ensuring the music was preserved and that anecdotes and tales were told in the sleeve notes in such an entertaining, amusing and informative way. Amongst all this backward glancing and historical cataloguing was the bio from Campbell Devine and the 3 CD Box set from CBS., a project Dale was heavily involved with.

That cajoling started with the single ‘Saturday Gigs’. Legend has it Buffin was keen that, IF Mott the Hoople were going to fold, then they ought to sign off with something more appropriate than ‘Foxy, Foxy’. If all that is true I am so glad he did, as the bands last single was a fine finale. Although not a (big) hit, John Peel (him again) did name it ‘Record of the Week’ in Sounds (a music paper of the day) and it did well in the Capital Radio daily requests charts.

The version that ends this collection is taken from the re-mastered 3-CD box-set collection mentioned above, as are the other two MTH tracks provided. I hope you enjoy it and, if you’re not familar with the bands’ work beyond the hits, that it might encourage you to investigate them further.

Finally, although I didn’t know Dale personally, I did have the pleasure and privilege of some email correspondence with him. During which he revealed himself to be a warm, friendly, engaging, amusing, informative, honest and generous bloke.

And he’s still my most favourite-est drummer. Ever.

Track Listing and Details:
1. Shame, Shame, Shame by The Silence.

Taken from the album Shotgun Eyes.
Recorded in 1990, the sleeve notes reveal that Dale Griffin was the driving force behind getting this record made. Of course, he plays drums and is involved in production too!
Available from Angel Air Records.
Read a review here >

2. Rock and Roll Queen by Mott the Hoople.
From the album All The Young Dudes - The Anthology: Disc 1 The Twilight of Pain Through Doubt.

Originally found on the bands Island debut 'Mott the Hoople' in 1969, this track survived and appeared on the last live set-lists. It highlights the energetic, frantic yet melodic drumming of Buffin wonderfully I feel.

3. Lounge Lizard by Mott the Hoople.
From the album All The Young Dudes - The Anthology: Disc 3 Blistered Psalms.

This is a demo essentially. Luther Grosvenor (Ariel Bender) had just left Mott the Hoople and appeared to signal the end of the band. However, Mick Ronson was signed-up as a replacement, a tour was on the horizon and some tracks were recorded. This was one of them and originally slated as B-side to 'Saturday Gigs'. It just shows us how fantastic this line-up would have been and you can see the smile on Buffin's face as he smashes out the beats to this one. Of course, the tour didn't happen and this track eventually found its way onto Ian Hunters debut album the following year.

4. Is Vic There? by Department S.

A hit single from 1981 (although originally released in 1980). Produced by Dale Griffin and Pete Watts, this is included in this collection as a tribute to Dale's production achievements as this is a track that most people around at the time would still re-call if you jogged their memory. I have no proof but wouldn't be at all surprised if Dale also produced their 3rd December Peel Session too?

5. It Takes One To Know One by Mott.
From the album Drive On.

Following the departure of Hunter and Ronson, the remaining members of Mott the Hoople reformed as Mott and, to fulfil contracts and so on, recorded another couple of albums. Drive On was the first. This album features some great drumming from Buffin (particularly on The Great White Wail). This track is included as its from the pen of our hero. Some great, witty lyrics too (a pointer to those later sleeve notes)!

6. Saturday Gigs by Mott the Hoople.
From the album All The Young Dudes - The Anthology: Disc 2 Temptations of the Flash.

We have this wonderful track thanks to the prompting of Dale Griffin. He felt, rightly as it turns out, that 'Foxy Foxy' really shouldn't be seen by history as the final testament to Mott the Hoople. That whatever happened with the band as a unit, something better should be put out there. Hunter duly delivered this wonderful ode to the whole affair. Ronson delivers some marvellous guitar work too. Despite John Peel making it his Record of the Week in Sounds it didn't quite make THE Top 40 (reached 41 in fact!). Brilliant, brilliant song and recording and, as Dale Griffin wished, a fitting finale to a wonderful band.

"...thanks for the great trip..."

Thursday, 21 January 2016

The 1972 Silver Machine Show -- Mix of the Month

The 1972 Silver Machine Show by Rock N Rail on Mixcloud

When I put this mix together a couple of weeks ago, I topped and tailed it with two tracks that would act as tributes to artistes that passed away in 2015: Silver Machine from Hawkwind featuring Lemmy on Bass and Vocals and Siberian Khartru by Yes featuring Chris Squire on Bass.

Hawkwind’s Silver Machine is such a strong, timeless track that, in tribute to it as well as Lemmy’s performance, I felt this collection should be great rock tracks from 1972, the year of its release.

And I had no idea then, that the third and tenth tracks chosen would also act as tributes. Tributes to David Bowie and Terence Dale 'Buffin' Griffin.

Like Silver Machine, everything Bowie has done sounds as good today as it did when first released. In some cases, they sound even better.

And, I am SO pleased I chose Jean Genie as, for me, it is the track that takes me back to listening to Radio Luxembourg through a naff one-piece ear-phone, listening to it in Tony Collins’s front room. It is just a perfect record in so many ways, rocking its way to the sky, filling every room and dream with electric guitar driven swagger. Fantastic. Fabulous and marvellous.

And ’72 was the big breakthrough year for Bowie. From Starman to producing and elevating the status of both Mott the Hoople and Lou Reed via Jean Genie, John I’m Only Dancing and everything Ziggy Stardust and those Spiders from Mars.

Ah. Mott the Hoople. Touched by the hand of Bowie, without which these ears would’t have heard the band that became one of my all time favourites. And Buffin, or Dale Griffin as he became known to us from ‘The Hoople’ onwards, was a stand-out member of the band. Apart from being a great drummer, he went on to ensure the bands’ legacy was preserved in print, movie and audio awesomeness. A true gent who’s passing didn’t go without a tear from me.

Back to this ‘mix’ and the final tribute track closes the collection. 'Siberian Khartru' from the classic ‘Close to the Edge’ by Yes, and another 1972 landmark. Some say the finest prog-rock album ever. Chris Squire’s imaginative, almost lead-bass work driving along this collections’ closing track with rock gusto that brings Roger Deans poster to life.

The rest of the tracks on this collection now pale into insignificance to an extent, but they also act as a reminder of how strong and exciting the music scene was in the early seventies. The fact that 40 years later these records and these artists are - in most part - still relevant tells us just how strong the industry was then. Great days. Great records. Great memories:

1. Silver Machine by Hawkwind.
2. Run, Run, Run by Jo Jo Gunne.
3. The Jean Geneie by David Bowie.
4. Don’t Waste My Time by Status Quo.
5. Hold Your Head Up by Argent.
6. School's Out by Alice Cooper.
7. Reelin' In The Years by Steely Dan.
8. Sylvia by Focus.
9. Burlesque by Family.
10. Sucker by Mott the Hoople.
11. Time Was by Wishbone Ash.
12. Siberian Khatru by Yes.

Saturday, 9 January 2016

Walking With The San by Charlie Simpson & San Bushmen -- Record of the Week!

Earlier this week notjustmum stumbled upon a telly programme that has become a 'must watch' in our house and provided some very heartwarming entertainment.

And none more so than the episode we saw on Wednesday when 'Singing in the Rainforest' on Watch took us to Namibia to meet the San people along with Busted's Charlie Simpson and his mate Alex Davies.

Now, apart from the Thunderbirds movie theme, Busted mean absolutely nothing to me. At all. But from the start of the programme, Charlie made an immediate impression.

And this continued throughout the programme. He really had compassion, care and concern for the San people. We learnt how they have had to change their traditional way of life -- hunter gatherers -- as conservation restricts hunting and that they survive on deliveries of grain. Compared to the Panamanian tribe we saw in the previous episode enjoying a session with the Happy Mondays (seriously), these people looked poor and hungry. They are small and slight and their diet poor. But... what happy, lovely people.

The former Busted frontman tapped into all this with great skill. The climax of each episode of 'Singing in the Rainforest' sees the UK band or artist collaborate with the indigenous tribe they spend a week with and Charlie's effort is the best of the series. By a mile, really.

Charlie was accompanied on the trip by his old school-chum and post-Busted bandmate Alex Davies, and the pair really endeared themselves to the San as well as prove very, very accomplished writers, players and performers.

We were told that, as well as the song being able to highlight the changes and threats the San face, proceeds from sales of the song would be given to aid the San. Needless to say we have purchased from iTunes. But not just because of the aid it provides: it's a really good song on so many levels.

I will not dismiss Charlie Simpson quite so readily in the future and, in fact, am about to listen to his second solo LP 'Long Road Home'.

Buy and download 'Walking with the San' from iTunes.